Wristband deadline put back 15 months

NHS trusts have been given another 15 months to provide every patient with a barcoded wristband.

The Information Standards Board for Health and Social Care issued an advance notification a new information standard to define the procedures necessary to add barcodes to patient wristbands in 2009.

At the time, the intention was for a full standard to be approved by the ISB in 2010, and for every trust to have to comply by the start of this month.

However, approval was put on hold and the proposed standard will now go to the ISB board in August.

The ISB has issued a statement saying the date for trusts to comply with the proposed standard has been extended to 1 October 2012.

A spokesperson said the development and approval of the standard simply "took longer than originally realised."

The push to improve wristbands started in 2007, when the NPSA said it wanted to see all wristbands being printed - rather than written - using a standard format by July 2009.

It issued a safer practice notice, arguing the move would cut the number of patients being given the wrong drugs or treatment as a result of poorly written wristbands.

Information obtained by eHealth Insider shows that three trusts have still failed to comply - or tell the NPSA that they have complied - with the safer practice notice; two years after the deadline for them to do so.  

They are: NHS Surrey, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust.

In 2007, the DH also published 'Coding for Success' in response to a Commons' health select committee report on patient safety.

It outlined the potential of barcoding and similar technologies for reducing medication, blood transfusion and surgical errors, and for tracing medicines, surgical instruments and devices through supply chains.

It also called for GS1 UK standards for coding to be adopted throughout the healthcare system in England, including on wristbands.

The DH has continued to advocate barcode technology, and recently issued a report calling for all products in the NHS to carry GS1 UK barcodes by the end of next year.

Last updated: 4 July 2011 14:40

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